Why this Award?

With the Award for Best Financial Communication we aim to reward the Belgian listed companies that stand out in terms of communication with the financial community. Good financial communication is a necessity, in good times as well as in bad times. Companies must be clear about their past achievements, but equally about their plans and objectives. Shareholders and (potential) investors must be informed correctly. More than 60 years of history have added to the renown of the Award. The interest from companies has clearly grown, as the survey serves as a mirror of their efforts to communicate with the financial community.

Our main goal is to encourage companies to keep investing in good quality information and communication. Analysts have a vital role to play, assisting investors in identifying risk and reward potential, translating company data, sector knowledge and forecasting skills in stock valuations and recommendations. For companies, learning about the strengths and weaknesses in their communication policies and strategies can definitely help to attract and keep the shareholders they want or need.

The importance of the Award can hardly be underestimated given its long track record. In 2020 we celebrated the Award’s 60th anniversary!

Which companies are part of the survey?

Year after year, we review the selection of companies to be screened. For many years, the market capitalisation was used as a hurdle rate. Needless to say, some smaller companies felt unhappy when they were left out so over the years, our approach has been more pragmatic.

Our first concern is to further increase the quality and the reliability of the survey results. This requires a minimum number of analysts participating in the screening of every individual company. The available resources are thus crucial in the selection process. Of course, bigger companies enjoy wider analyst coverage than smaller ones. But with some 30 small and mid caps adding to the bulk of the Bel20 members, we feel the current selection of about 50 companies is a good representation of listed corporate Belgium.

Screening process

In a first phase, we select the companies that will be screened based on all relevant aspects of financial information and communication made available over the past year to analysts and investors.

Participants check the quantity, the quality and the usefulness of the information. Although members of the financial press and investor associations have participated in the past, local financial analysts continue to play a crucial role in the screening process. A clear trend in the past few years is the growing (relative) participation of buy-side analysts (analysts working for institutional investors like private bankers or asset managers) and portfolio managers. This reflects our policy to widen the participation of the financial community beyond the traditional sell-side analyst teams. We are proud that almost all Belgian analyst teams are represented.

The arrival of the euro was a breakthrough for cross border investing, taking away currency risk. As a result, Belgian listed companies made it more frequently onto the radar screens of international investors and analysts. That is why as of 2011 we invited analysts from a number of analyst teams outside Belgium to take part in the screening. Since then, we have continued our efforts to broaden the commitment of analysts from outside Belgium.

The survey typically runs from June to September and spans the preceding 12-month period. The results are made public in October and the Awards are represented during the ABAF Awards Ceremony.